Police Misconduct

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Police Culture and Police Misconduct

M. Collins

Criminal Justice 593

Dr. Jiabo Liu

April 2008


I. Introduction

II. Main Issues

III. Analysis

IV. Suggestions and/or Recommendations

V. Conclusion

VI. References



In the United States, there are city, county, state, and national police forces. They have very difficult and dangerous responsibilities. These public servants are required to perform many different jobs. They enforce laws and maintain order. They teach people how to help prevent crime and to protect themselves ( Mittleman, 2000). They offer assistance and take charge of many different situations such as car accidents, flooding, and hurricanes. Police officers also help find missing people and settle arguments between people. They watch for speeding drivers on the road and give traffic tickets. Specially trained police officers (detectives) investigate crimes that have already happened, such as robbery, kidnapping, or murder. Police work is very tough, but thanks to them, everyone lives more safely.

It is important to bear in mind that law enforcement officers have to preserve order and protect citizens. Because of this very challenging job, often times, officers find themselves involved in extremely unpredictable and often dangerous situations in which they risk serious injury to their lives so that other citizens may be safe. Many officers are injured or killed trying to protect the public. In order to minimize harm to others and to themselves, law enforcement officers must exercise critical and quick judgment, often when the circumstances are volatile and potentially deadly. Sometimes, police officers do not exercise integrity for their job (Chan, 1997).

In this report, I will address police culture and misconduct. First, I will discuss the main issues, which will include the history and current situation of police departments and misconduct. Secondly, I will analyze theories, cultures, laws, and other relevant data on the topic. Finally, I will share with your recommendations for tackling this growing problem that is plaguing our society.


Throughout history, efforts to police societies have been blemished by brutality and misconduct to some degree. In the ancient world, policing entities subjected citizens to terror and abusive treatment to gain control. In the English-speaking world, most modern-day police departments were first established in the nineteenth century, and in the early days cases of police brutality were recurring. Marilynn S. Johnson, a researcher who wrote, Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City, describes the routine bludgeoning of citizens by patrolmen armed with nightsticks or blackjacks.

In the United States, the passage of the Volstead Act in 1919 (the National Prohibition Act) had a long-term negative impact on policing practices. The demand for alcohol and the rewards gained from the sell of alcohol in the mid-1920s, gave way to growing crime. Understaffed and with meager resources, many law enforcement agencies engaged in the use of unlawful practices. By the time of the Hoover administration, the issue had grown to national concern and a National Committee on Law Observation and Enforcement was formed to look into the situation. Their investigation concluded that police brutality and other miscarriages of justice were prevalent. In the years following the report, landmark legal judgments such as Brown v. Mississippi helped to cement a legal obligation to respect the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

During the Civil Rights Era in the 1960s, African Americans had to overcome

numerous incidents of police brutality in its struggle for justice and racial equality. In the United States, race and police brutality continue to be closely linked, and the phenomenon has sparked a string of race riots over the years. The use of...
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